September is National Suicide Awareness Month and to bring attention to this health crisis, three Ohioans — Devin Gonzales, Sam Woodward and Jacob Jones — are bicycling from Cincinnati to Cleveland starting Sept. 23 in a Ride for Hope.
The trio will bike almost 350 miles in five days to "make sure that suicide — which has impacted them personally — is not an option during this time of uncertainty surrounding COVID," says a release from the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF).
“I grew up with a sibling who attempted suicide multiple times, and countless other friends who died thinking people don’t care for them,” says Gonzales, “I have a strong desire to do something and inspire others to help those who are struggling.”
Gonzales, Woodward and Jones will start their ride here, in the Queen City, making stops at John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs, New Albany, Turkey Hollow Camp Ground in Millersburg and Summit Metro Park Big Bend Camp Ground in Akron before finishing their five-day trek at Cleveland Edgewater Park.
The goal of the ride is also to raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness.
You can donate to help them get to their goal of $10,000 at facebook.com.
According to data from the OSPF, 1,836 people died by suicide in 2018, and it is the leading cause of death for those ages 10-14 (and the second leading cause of death for those 10-24).
Between 2007 and 2018, the Ohio Department of Health says suicide rates jumped 45%, with suicide in young people increasing 64.4%.
And according to a CDC report published in August, based a nationwide survey conducted between June 24-30, 2020, "U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation."
“Suicide is an issue that impacts every demographic, and we fear that COVID will be driving anxiety and depression rates even higher,” says OSPF Executive Director Tony Coder. “It will take all of Ohio to be part of the solution and we are happy that Devin and Sam (and Jacob) are stepping up to raise awareness and save lives.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide or needs help now, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text "4HOPE" to the Crisis Text Line at 741 741. You can also find support and resources at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Ohio namiswoh.org/crisis-info or at the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation at ohiospf.org.